Music at the Mansion Showcases Local Talents and Historic Landmark

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One of St. Joseph’s most prominent mansions was rockin’ Saturday as hundreds of community members gathered at the historic Wythe-Tootle Mansion April 2 for the fourth annual Music at the Mansion. The event was sponsored by the St. Joseph Museums and the St. Joseph Music Foundation, with funds raised going to the Music Foundation.

“Several years ago those involved in the Wythe-Tootle Mansion Committee and the Museum Hill neighborhood had wanted to organize a music appreciation event that brought together local artists. This was very successful and we’ve made it an annual event since,” said Sara Wilson, executive director of the St. Joseph Museums, on the origins of the event.

The museum partners with the Music Foundation because they are active in the Missouri Music Hall of Fame, which the St. Joseph Museum houses, explained Wilson. Through this event, the foundation is able to gain awareness and funds so they can continue to support local artists.

The event is beneficial for the mansion and downtown St. Joseph as well.

“For the Wythe-Tootle mansion, this brings in a lot of people who maybe know we’re here but haven’t visited before, or in a while. I think it’s great to bring people into the Museum Hill neighborhood and downtown because of the history. This year it was coordinated with first Saturday, so I think that the whole day today in downtown St. Joseph [was] a really fun experience.” said Wilson.

According to the Music Foundation President, Larry Schildtknecht, the foundation’s main purpose is to expose the community to local talents while assisting the artists.

“We raise the bar for live music here in St. Joseph. We are essentially a tool for artists, who we help promote in the community; we don’t book artists, but we do promote through our various events and radio station, KFGH 99.3. We also help artists improve themselves by providing them information, like with taxes and business opportunities,” said Schildtknecht.

One local artist the foundation helps support is Missouri Western student, Stephanie Gummelt. Gummelt, a Technical Communication major, has been performing since age 11 starting with her sixth grade talent show. Around age 15 she became more serious about performing.

“I really like connecting with people… I love the vibe I get when I’m not thinking about how I look or sound, but I’m thinking about how I feel,” said Gummelt.

“I perform at the Paradox Theater, which is where I go to church at. I’ve done [the Wythe-Tootle] mansion before over Christmastime, and I’ve played at Porches downtown too,” explained Gummelt.

Gummelt describes her sound as 60s and 70s folk rock inspired by artists like Stevie Nicks and Joanie Mitchell. Although she performs several venues around St. Joseph, most people still recognize her from American Idol in 2014, which she says has helped her grow as a performer.

“I realized that a lot of people are quick to support a local person, and even now after a year and a half people come up to me and say ‘We still have you on our TV!’ And it was me being my exact self. It’s definitely helped. I’m more confident and comfortable, and I think my performing is worth people watching,” said Gummelt.

Gummelt and several other artists performed all day Saturday thanks to the work of the St. Joseph Museums and the Music Foundation. These artists included Larry Christie, Center State, Under the Big Oak Tree, Jason Riley, The Regents, and Scruffy and the Janitors. All artists provided a variety of music styles, making for a fun and diverse afternoon.

Refreshments were also provided by Paradox Coffee House and Bakery, Foster’s Martini Bar, Goode Foods and the Museum Hill Neighborhood Association. Overall it was an event incorporating several local resources St. Joseph has to offer.

“We are grateful for the musicians and the bands coming out to share with us their talents,” said Wilson.

The Wythe-Tootle Mansion is now open for the season on Fridays and Saturdays until October, and there is a new exhibit on flooding in the area opening April 15. Students receive a discount with a valid student I.D.

The St. Joseph Music Foundation also has an upcoming event May 14 at the East Hills Mall called “East Hills Unplugged.” This is a precursor event for Joe Stock held over Labor Day weekend.